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Dave Reinlieb Exclusive interview with Maestro Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

This intyerview did several years ago (during ATTACK album recoreding 2003 )


Interview by Dave Reinlieb, he is writer of More Sugar Entertainment (MSE is a free publication out of Westchester County, NY.)

DR Hello Yngwie how are you doing?

YM I am doing good, thank you.

DR Fantastic, thanks for calling

YM No problem

DR So you're currently working on your new rock record right?

YM I'm in the studio actually, been recording maybe for about ten days now.

DR Who are you recording with now?

YM It's sort of up in the air really. What I've done is I've written a lot of songs, and the only 2 people that I've had locked in completely for 100% sure, actually 3 people, are the engineer, Tom Fletcher, who's done a lot of records for me before, and the drummer Patrick Johansson from Sweden, and keyboard player Derek Sherinian.

DR What kind of direction is the music going? Same as War to End All Wars?

YM I don't know what to call it really, I mean I'm not so sure. You see what happened was my last 2 albums, I don't know if it was a mistake or not, I'm not knocking them, I still think they were good albums, you know, but I have a certain view, a certain vision, of what I want to do, whereas this one is more, I just let it flow and so far, you know, its very difficult for me to explain it, its very melodic, very strong melodies, strong hooks, both riff and melody wise. And the production obviously I am paying an extreme lot of attention to that.

DR Yeah, there has been a lot of criticism over that, especially on the last album as far as production.

YM I know, and that will never happen again, ever! Unfortunately the reason. (laughing) what happened was that.ah it's a long story really. It's past and basically what it comes down to is that's one aspect that I'm paying a lot of attention to. But the sound's going to be incredible, the songs I think are very, very strong, the players are very, very good, and I feel I'm at the top of my game. And so all in all I am extremely excited for this record and I'm shooting to get it out sometime in the summer.

DR You didn't mention a vocalist.

YM Well you know I don't want to say anything until it is for sure, you know? I have a few guys that I am talking to, and they are all good, and they are good people and everything, but I don't want to say anything now.

DR Are you working with a producer this time?

YM Well you see, most people have a very distorted idea of what a producer does. A producer is someone that comes in and arranges songs and this and that. It really doesn't have much to do with the sound. The engineer is who is doing the sound. But the producer says 'Ok I want more bass on this ' or whatever, you know? So no, I will never use a producer perse, but trust me, the last thing you guys have to worry about is the sound, and that I will make sure of.

DR Are you planning on touring with the orchestra for your Concerto?

YM Yes, there has been a lot of talk about that, but these things unfortunately take a long time to arrange.

DR And you're also working on the Genesis CD, which contains your early demo material?

YM That's finished already.

DR So that's almost ready for release then?

YM Yes.

DR Out of all your past singers, who would you like to work with again, if any?

Long pause

YM Well, (laughing) it's a bit of a dilemma that, you know? It's a bit of a dilemma...I must say, because I think they are all great, but they seem to have a bit of a problem with the fact that.

DR You're the boss.

YM Yeah. And so, songwriter as well. So that and some other aspects that keep it becoming a bit of a dilemma to get back you know. Even though a singer is the guy that sings the song, to me, the singer is just like the drummer or the bass payer, or the keyboard player, to me. I don't understand why singers have that attitude that they are, the star, you know? They gotta get out of their fuckin' Elvis mentality. This is rock & roll baby, this is not a fuckin', some crooner you know? And so that's the problem I have with that.

DR There was talk not too long ago about you working with Graham Bonnet, how did that come about?

YM They were calling me all the time and saying that they wanted to put Alcatrazz together.

DR Who was calling?

YM All of them, and I didn't say no. But then it all just fizzed away, (laughing) I don't know what happened there. I mean I'm always busy with my own thing, but I didn't say 'no way', or anything like that.

DR And you know what, Graham ended up getting back together with Impilliterri.

YM Who?

DR Exactly! (Me thinking Yngwie is being funny)

YM Who is that?

DR Chris Impilliterri, a copycat of yours that came out in the 80's

YM Oh really?

DR Graham sang on his first album Stand in Line, around the time you released Odyssey.

YM Oh.

DR I have been a fan of yours since the Odyssey record. A lot of people would love to see you record with Joe Lynn Turner again. I know you're not such a big fan of that album but is their any chance of that down the line?

YM The thing is what's happened the last ten years, back in the 80's, you knew what was on the radio. You knew what was on MTV. And their was a format and I found it was very easy for me to just write a song, I can write a very wide array of songs, but I found it very easy then to write something that I knew was going to be popular, like 'You Don't Remember, I'll Never Forget', 'Heaven Tonight', 'Now Is the Time', 'Hold On', 'Dreaming', stuff like that. I knew exactly what people were going to eat up, because that's what was on the radio, their was a format, call it commercial, call it whatever you want. But today, there is no such thing. Today if you were to do a 'Heaven Tonight' song you would be laughed out of the fucking room. Now you gotta be tattooed, and bald, and with baggy shorts, and gotta play kinda shitty. I'm not prepared to take part in that. Basically what I am going do, is not going to be concerned with what is "commercial", or whatever, because I'm not following anybody. So what I am doing is I'm making the best music that I can. The best songs, the best playing, the best musicians, everything to me cr鑪e de le cr鑪e, you know? And hopefully people are going to pick up on that. Hopefully people are going to say well yeah this fucking guy is good, or this band is good, or this album is good. And that's all I have to go on. So when you say, do you want to work with Joe Lynn Turner, well Joe and I are still on very friendly terms, I never had a problem with him, in fact he came back and sang for me on my 96' album Inspiration, which was great fun, doing that record. But I'm sorry, he is still stuck in that stuff, and I can't go with that. So that probably won't happen...never say never though.

DR Are you ever going to do another all instrumental album like Rising Force?

YM I have no plans to do that, no. In fact, if you knew the background story behind that album, you'd probably be surprised. I was in a band called Alcatrazz, and you know I did a world tour with them and I went to Japan and the Japanese record company was impressed with me so they offered me a solo deal. But they said 'You must make an instrumental album', and I said 'I don't want to make an instrumental', I never wanted to make and instrumental album.

DR And it was nominated for a Grammy too!

YM Yes! And the ironic part is that I never wanted to do that. You know what I am saying?

DR How has Spitfire Records been so far?

YM Pretty cool, pretty cool. You know, it's a combination of the industry itself and you know, hitting the right people with what you do, its not an easy market, because metal perse, is still not back yet you know? It isn't mainstream yet, it used to be but its not anymore.

DR What, if anything, do you think needs to happen with your music, or your image, for your career to really start happening in the United States again?

Long Pause..

YM Well I don't, I don't.(Laughs) I don't know. You know, I have a vision, I have style, I have created my own sound, and I have no intention of changing that. Longevity is the most important thing.way, way more important than overnight success. So, you know, I'm still here.still doing my thing.

DR What's your guitar collection up to now?

YM I haven't counted in a while but it's a hundred plus

DR I think a few years ago it was a hundred plus!

YM I haven't really been getting much more, 130 or 140, I don't know. It's a lot!

DR How is The Duck doing? (Strat featured on the cover of Rising Force)

YM It's sleeping! I used it a little bit on War, but it's still hanging out. I never really try anymore to use it. It's so fucking worn out it's ridiculous. The guitars I do play are exactly the same year, the same color, everything.

DR 72', right?

YM It's a 71', actually I like between 68' or 72', around that era. And the Marshall heads about that era too.

DR You have a new amp coming out right, the YJM50, by Rhino?

YM Yeah, they actually did a real good job. I Also I have a DOD pedal out. That's really good, I use that one.

DR You use it yourself?

YM Oh yeah, it's really good.

DR You have perfect pitch right? I mean you can listen to pretty much anything be able to play it on guitar, right?

YM More or less (laughing). I find it very easy to pick things up because everything is within scales and modes, if you know those things, then there is no guesswork really. It's got a lot to do with the fact that also from day one I was always improvising everything. And by improvising you find exactly where you should be and where you shouldn't be, and what fits and what don't fit, that chord progression, that key, the mode, whatever, you know? Then you realize more and more what you can do with it.

DR Do you have a favorite album of yours?

YM No.

DR You love them all.

YM No. I have kind of lukewarm feeling about all the things I've done. Because what it is, everything I do is always the best, the best I can do. And then after that I do the next thing, and that has to be the best thing I've done. And after that, I'm on to the new thing, the other ones I don't care about. I don't say they are bad, I don't think I've done a bad album to be honest with you, I don't think I've done a bad album. But, specifically, because every time I've done an album it's always been the best I could do at the time. So I've always tried to outdo myself. Obviously the Concerto stands out by itself, it's a different record you know. But whatever I try to do has to be ultimately as good as I possibly can make it. And right now all I have on my mind is the record I am working on now, I don't think about any of the other ones.

DR So we can look forward to a fantastic record from you this summer with great production?

YM Oh Yeah!! That, you can take it all the way to the bank man! Cause when I read all that shit (WTEAW criticism) I said no, no.there is no fucking way I am ever going to have that again!

DR It was a good album, but unfortunately received a lot of criticism. But you know what? You must get that on every goddamn album. How could you possibly please everybody.It's impossible, critics are rough on you.

YM (Laughing) That's ok. It's a very, very energetic record, this new album, I can tell you that much. Now when I've thought about it. You asked me what its like. My new drummer is just unbelievable.

DR Another Swede.

YM Yes Swede, Viking.

DR I was actually pretty fond of the Fire and Ice lineup.

YM Fire and Ice?

DR Now that we're speaking of Swedish band members.

YM Yeah, (laughing) did you ever see that lineup live?

DR Sure, I saw you then at The Ritz in New York City actually. You didn't think they were good live?

YM Well I mean unfortunately the singer couldn't sing a song unless it was two steps flat.

DR The album was good.

YM Yeah, I think so too.

DR Too bad that whole Elektra deal didn't work out.

YM That was a fiasco!

DR It was looking positive around then wasn't it?

YM Well you can thank Nirvana for that.

DR Oh yes, 1992, what an awful time, what an awful time.

YM (Laughing) Well, if you look at it in retrospect, I'm still standing you know? Some of those bands that were selling millions of records one year before are now mowing lawns for a living. So I can't complain.

DR When you first came to the states to join with Steeler, there was a huge buzz around you then, what kind of offers did you get?

YM All sorts of weird people used to pop up. Actually before I even came to America, I got phone calls from Ozzy's management, From Kiss' management. Once I came to the states Ronnie (Dio) was always at my shows. I became friends with him and we're still friends.I admire him very much. UFO, Phil Mogg was asking me to join him, I can't remember now, some other bands also, but they wanted to do some super group things like me and Sheehan, stuff like that.

DR Would you still do that?

YM Well, I was open for everything at the time. I had a meeting with Phil Mogg and Graham Bonnet the same day. The reason I joined in with Graham Bonnet's project, which was to be his, sort of thing, but it became mine, funny enough. Actually I took over the whole show there.

DR He didn't like that did he?

YM Well no, I mean, at first he did. It was cool because he didn't have direction, he didn't have songs, didn't have anything. And I walked in there and just took care of it. And then when some shit happened on the road (fighting with Bonnet), then yeah, that became kind of rough. But that's why I joined in with them because I felt that, especially since I've been a song writer all my life, and then being in Steeler playing two chord songs, and very biennial bullshit, I felt very compelled to be able to write again. So having a chance to go in and be the songwriter for the whole thing, I felt that was the right choice. And I think it was actually, I think if I had gone with Phil Mogg it might not have come out to be another thing. (His solo career)

YM I did later on get an offer from David Lee Roth as well.

DR Really?

YM And I said 'Thanks, but no thanks.' But that's the weird thing because.(Pause) Oh maybe I should have done it, I don't know. This was like 85'; Sheehan's band was my opening act, Talas. And he (DLR) came to see the shows. And he snagged up Billy Sheehan, and he wanted to get me, and I said 'Thanks but no thanks', cause I thought I was on a fucking roll you know? And in a way I was.

DR And he went and picked up Vai.

YM Yeah, Steve's a good friend of mine, he's a good guy.

DR How is your son doing?

YM He is big!

DR How old is he now?

YM He is 4.

DR And how is he on the guitar?

YM Oh I decided to just let him be a kid first. Because it's more important for him to be a kid, then he can become serious about something. But he's very musical and very intelligent. I'm not worried about it at all

DR If you could change anything about yourself, what would you change?

YM Nothing.

DR What are the fondest memories you have on your career? What time do you like to look back on?

YM The best time I ever had in my life is right now. Right now. I'm at the top of my game, I have everything in order, everything is going my way, it would be easy to tell you what my bad moments were! Because there have been plenty of those.

DR Yeah, right before Odyssey right?

YM Oh that was bad, yeah. I always go forward, and I don't dwell too much on what happened before you know, whatever.good, bad, I don't give a shit. I gotta go forward. The only way you can get somewhere is by going forward.

DR Thank you very much for calling Yngwie, good luck with the record.

YM Thanks very much, nice talking to you.